Tag: church

Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. There Will Be No Beauty Left

 

No churches with their glowing stained glass windows, no murals, no paintings of Christ with the children, no depictions of Mary being touched by God—all these will disappear if Shaun King has his way. He told his 1.1 million followers that all images of a white Jesus and his ‘European’ mother should be destroyed. White Jesus is a symbol of ‘white supremacy,’ and has been used over the centuries to oppress anyone not white.

How many of his followers will take his pronouncement and follow through with destroying churches, statues of Jesus and Mary, paintings, etc.? Should armed guards be stationed 24/7 to protect “The Last Supper?” What about the statue of Mary and Jesus, “The Pieta?” Wasn’t there an attempt years ago to damage that? How many paintings and murals with a white Jesus also show people of other races? In many of those, Jesus is seated among the people. Would an oppressor feel comfortable enough to sit with those he is supposedly oppressing?

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Reading and watching the news with bemused dismay as government officials, be they town, county, or state, try to lock down people from celebrating Easter, or attending any religious service, I proposed a partial theory to Mr. C. Because people are not out driving as much, the police aren’t able to issue traffic tickets, which […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Never Say Never

 

I think everyone must have their own “never say never” story, and this is mine. 

I have been involved with my church’s 20s/30s singles group for quite a few years now, and something we’ve done for a long time is discipleship groups (or d-groups). These are small gender-specific groups that meet during the week, usually at someone’s house, for deeper fellowship and Bible study. I really enjoy d-groups and signed up for one right away. But after I had been a member of a d-group a couple of times, our leader, Kelly, started asking me to think about leading or co-leading one. 

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Word of the Year

 

I don’t know if this is a specifically Christian practice or if people who aren’t Christians do something similar, too, but it’s become a Thing in my church community to choose a “word” for the year. This is usually an area where we want to see God grow us, something to pray about and focus on as the months continue. Now, I realize that the way I’ve written this paragraph kind of sounds like I’m being critical about having a prayer word (as some call it, including myself), but I actually love the idea.

This year isn’t the first time I’ve had a prayer word. Last year my word started out as “maturity,” but then about a month in, it changed to “abide” and remained that way for the rest of the year. I had a Scripture passage to go with it (John 15:1-11), which I memorized and reviewed once a week. It was the right word for me for that time, and I did, praise Jesus, see some growth in my abiding in Christ.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Why Do Those Wanting to Transform an Institution Almost Always Claim the Institution…

 

. . .and the people who want to preserve what the institution has stood for must leave and create a new institution to preserve the values of the old institution?

The United Methodist Church, which I recently joined in the hopes of avoiding just such a fracturing, has before it a proposal to split over whether to adhere to traditional church teaching. Although the triggering issue is listed as human sexuality, sexuality is merely the surface issue for a much deeper conflict over many aspects of traditional church doctrine, the authority of scripture, the value of traditions, and questions of how God has related to His people throughout history. But this is not the thread in which to discuss the specifics of the Methodist controversy. For better details on the Methodist proposal, go to the thread entitled, “This Week in the UMC” by @jimchase.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Book Recs for a Recent Catholic

 

I have recently decided I want to be Catholic after a lifetime of protesting (being Protestant, not being an anti-theist) and am looking for some great books on the history of the Catholic church, Catholic philosophy, Catholic apologia, etc. I figured Ricochet would be a good place to ask, given the founder and community here. S o what would you guys recommend?

For anyone wondering what prompted the change, Cupid’s arrow found its mark and I’m engaged to a wonderful Catholic girl and I want to raise our future children in the faith.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How Lame Is Our Awesome God?

 

“When He rolls up His sleeves / He ain’t just puttin’ on the Ritz” must be one of the least promising ways to begin a worship song ever. Nobody rolling up their sleeves is “puttin’ on the Ritz.” The rolled-up sleeve-position used for manual labor is the opposite of the sleeve-position used for an old-fashioned fancy night out. And yet, that’s how Richard Mullins’s best-known song, Awesome God opens. Mullins himself considered Awesome God something of a failure, remarking, “the thing I like about Awesome God is that it’s one of the worst-written songs that I ever wrote; it’s just poorly crafted.” And yet it’s a song many of us remember fondly. Why?

To be fair, the lyrics get better from there: “There is THUNder in His footsteps / And lightnin’ in His fists.” Although not by much. Awesome God alternates patter in the verses with an expansive chorus, and the patter is hardly scintillating prose, much less verse. (“Eden” rhymes with “be believin’” — really?) The patter does, though, address themes often left out of “Jesus is my boyfriend”-style worship songs. God as Judge. Sin and its wages. God as God not just of happy, shiny, fluffy things, but also of the storm. And, when the song is sung at proper tempo (no slower than Mullins himself performed it), the rapid-fire, syncopated sixteenth-note patter creates an effect that surpasses its individual words. Especially when the worship leader delivers the patter in a half-snarled, half-whispered mutter, as if he’s letting you in on the secret of something dangerous — which he is: Aslan’s not safe, after all, just good. Notice I called the worship leader he. That’s important. Awesome God is made for a masculine musical delivery, and the difference between liking the song and hating it can simply be the difference between having learned it as masculine and driven, or crooning and wimpy.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. The Dollar Almighty and a Crisis of Faith

 

This week an Inside Edition video interviewing Kenneth Copeland went viral as part of a disturbing investigation of televangelists living upscale lifestyles. Copeland, and others, are part of a movement from decades ago, preaching a prosperity “gospel,” offering false teachings, and thus, false promises, which have caused many followers heartache mentally, financially, and in their faith. 

We hear stories and jokes all of the time about the crazy cat lady that leaves the entirety of her estate to one of these ministries (see, this clip from the 1997 movie The Rainmaker). However, there is a scary truth to this example, in that the message is solely that prosperity is the only way to God, and if one is suffering, that means Satan is in charge.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. It Takes a Village to Make a Village

 

I’m a third of the way through Tim Carney’s Alienated America and I also thoroughly enjoyed the episode of The Remnant podcast about the book. It’s no surprise to me that I like this book, as the lack of social organizations at a grassroots level is near and dear to my heart, especially when it comes to firearms ownership in America.

Gun owners are being shoved to the side in American culture, and that’s putting the right to self-defense for all Americans in jeopardy. While my focus is on gun rights, the fact is, the decline of social communities outside of politicas is something that is hurting all Americans. So I ask you, my fellow Ricocheti, what can we as individuals to help re-create and renew the social organizations that once held our country together?

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I saw a quote on Twitter a few weeks ago that got me thinking. I am working from memory here so I don’t remember who said it or the exact wording, but the main point was this: I have better teaching and music on my phone than you have in your church, so if you […]

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Suckers for Jesus! Or, Holy Kitsch!

 

I can’t call it “only in America,” because kitschy and silly, though harmless, religious trinkets seem to be a universal phenomenon. Still, there is something endearingly American about this online Christian storefront, selling Testamints, crucifix-shaped lollies, gourmet Scripture suckers, chocolate tulips (must be for the Calvinists), and little gummy Jesus “footsteps”: show that you walk in His footsteps by eating His feet!

“Take and eat… do this in remembrance of me.” In a religion based on the Eucharist, I suppose it’s not exactly blasphemous to consume Jesus in gummy form, though I doubt my grandmother would have agreed: she would have seen candy shaped like all or any part of Jesus as blasphemously irreverent, even if abstract religious symbols were commonplace in eats where she came from. Part of the wider Christian culture in America is to downplay aesthetic differences: high church or low, contemporary or old-fashioned, why argue adiaphora, huh? At the same time, aesthetics go to the heart of worship: whatever we think “worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness” means, it only seems fitting to give of our best (whatever that is) in acts of reverence. Religious kitsch occupies a funny place, not just strange, but amusing — and not just amusing to snobs who wish to disdain the rubes. The Babylon Bee, a favorite site of many of us here, often pokes fun at Christian kitsch, and it could hardly be said to disdain American Christians: it pokes fun at the kitsch because it’s run by American Christians.

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Race, what ever it is specifically, is immutable and can’t be changed. Race, which I know is incredibly hard to define, defines you in certain ways from birth and you have no control over that. On the other hand, your culture is something that can and does change. Culture is a world view that you […]

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Wanted: The Strength of a Mule

 

I had a premonition this performance would not end well. It wasn’t because this was an impossibly big-and-spectacular Easter production that my relatively small-and-homespun church had been rehearsing for months. And it wasn’t because there were two smoke machines in the tomb that kept malfunctioning and the feathers on the angel wings refused to remain glued. No. It was because there was a live animal in the cast – and as the director, it would fall to me to … well … direct it.

Now everyone knows that one of the time-honored maxims of theatre is to never ever share a stage with a baby or an animal. Especially the latter. Animals are unpredictable, pose public hygiene challenges, and are perpetual scene-stealers. But the music director would not listen to any of my arguments and announced that this year Jesus would ride into Jerusalem during the Triumphal Entry song on a donkey. The pastor also thought it was a wonderful idea and read me the Scriptural account in Mark 11 of the “donkey colt that had never been ridden.”

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. How Christian Are Christians?

 

Last Wednesday, I caught a bit of Glenn Beck’s show while driving across town. The subject kept me from turning the dial, even though I don’t usually listen to him. The subject? How Christianity is losing the culture.

In an interview with Jonathan Bock, they went over some Pew Research and Gallup poll numbers that show alarming statistics for church attendance, Bible reading habits, and tithing.

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When we contacted Mark and Lynn about getting together to talk about their experiences during the fires in Sonoma County, Mark responded, “Our church didn’t do much.” More

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Is a Sense of Being Trapped in the “Wrong” Body Always a Delusion?

 

It came as a surprise to me to hear that Camille Paglia calls herself transgender, and more surprising that Ricochetti might be OK with it – more specifically, that there might be those who are OK with it when Paglia does it but not OK with it when others do it. It’s possible that what makes it OK for Paglia is that she’s not “gender dysphoric” – “She fully embraces her identity, both physical and mental,” and is “self-confident and passionate” about it, as @cm put it. This piques my interest, I admit, and in a way that goes beyond the merely academic.

If “gender dysphoria” is taken to mean “unease with the sex you were born into,” well, then I have a fair amount of experience being gender dysphoric. In my case, there now seems to be a reasonable explanation for it: a congenital defect whose severity would be considerably mitigated if I were born male – moreover a defect not identified until this year, so that I’ve spent most of post-pubescent life sensing (correctly, it turns out) that my body was somehow wrong and that being born female heightened this wrongness, while also having no socially-acceptable reason to give others for why I sensed this.

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Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Satan’s Devices

 

I’m still unhappy about what happened in church Sunday. We were following the sermon–an encouraging and faith building teaching session on how God uses the seemingly small and mundane incidents in our lives to further His own ends. Then someone’s phone dinged once. I felt irritated, but it was once. Then it dinged again. And then again. Not really loud, but enough to be a distraction.

I’m thinking, Really? Can’t you just shut that off for a little while? Is it that hard? (I had switched mine to vibrate right before church.) Then it just kept up with clusters of chimes throughout the service. I turned around slightly trying to figure out who it might be. I thought I had her pegged, a young woman who appeared to be openly texting in church. Mentally, I made a list of options for her: put it on vibrate, take it outside, or wait until later. I tried to imagine what could be so important that one had to carry on a text conversation right there. A medical emergency of some sort? Still, come on.

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Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Youth Minister Caught in Compromising Position

 

Maryville, TN — A newly-hired youth minister found, not his credentials, but his faith questioned when it was revealed he could not actually play guitar.

While Drew Campbell, youth minister at Grace Grove Bible Church, was preparing gear for the teen Seekers’ annual spring-break camping retreat, he was discovered in the church basement awkwardly fondling a guitar, muttering to himself, “So, how do you play this thing?”

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